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Dead Man Talking

Werner Herzog’s death-penalty exploration reveals nothing new

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Into the Abyss, Werner Herzog’s curious look at a Texas triple homicide and the long march to the fatal gurney for the young men involved doesn't bang the gong too loudly for anti-death penalty legislative action.

Still, the movie is refreshingly devoid of politics, even if that also means it’s devoid of conflict. Herzog examines a 2001 tragedy in Texas in which Michael Perry and Jason Burkett shot a mother in the back so they could steal her family’s red Camaro, then lured the woman’s son and his friend into nearby woods and executed them.

Ten years later, Herzog finds Perry a perversely jovial figure, always flashing a bucktoothed grin and still convinced he got the shaft while his partner got away with a life sentence.

Herzog interviews some of the people involved in the case and shows us the transcript of Perry's last words. But the film leaves you hungry for more details, or at least the kind of pseudo-narrative seen on countless true-crime TV specials. --Justin Strout

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